This Way of Life


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

It’s so easy to ‘speak Christian’ but not really communicate. When we tell people to follow Jesus, it may feel like we’re telling people to stand in the corner of a round room. Phrases like “Give your life to Christ” and “Surrender to Jesus” describe a decision . . . a specific event, not a day-to-day guideline for living ‘this way of life.’

So I came up with eight practices that together, can make ‘this way of life’ a reality. I believe God’s Word supports all of these. So here goes . . .

  1. Love and accept people – Just as they are. Forgive them when they fail. Don’t create expectations for other’s behavior, especially for those outside the faith who don’t have the faith you have.
  2. Trust God with the outcomes – Peace over panic. Do the next right thing, remembering that He loves you, wants what’s best for you, and never leaves you.
  3. Relax in your identity – Strive no more! You are an adopted child of the King of Kings. You can’t be unadopted.
  4. Be generous – Trusting God allows you to give rather than hold back. Freely give your time, money, and grace without regard to being appreciated or getting anything in return.
  5. Develop your character – Faith in God makes it safe to do the right thing, as God defines it, even when nobody’s looking and when it’s going to cost you something.
  6. Live in community – Connect and commit to a church but even more, get connected and do life with at least one other Jesus-follower who knows your dark corners and whose life is headed toward Christ.
  7. Pray all the time  Listen to His voice in Scripture. Listen for His voice in your thoughts. Get in the habit of praying and listening, even a simple prayer like “I love you, Lord, I trust you, Lord, I need you, Lord, I thank you, Lord.”
  8. Intentionally mentor – Live your life for others. Be intentional about engaging with people for the purpose of helping them find and follow Jesus. Look for mentors to help you grow as you mentor one, two, or a group of folks who may be behind you in their spiritual journey.

Faith empowers us to live ‘this way of life.’ But faith in God as a concept won’t cut. It takes faith in a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Faith in an omnipotent God who wants you to trust Him enough that you can do all eight of these things consistently and with confidence in order to “have life and have it to the full.”

Scripture: Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

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His Church


 

Defeating the Devil’s Strategies


Reposted from In Touch Ministries

All of us make tracks through the valley of failure. Then the key question is, What we will do next? Sadly, many believers who stumble give up a vibrant kingdom-serving life for a defeated existence. But failure can also be a chance for a new beginning of living in Christ’s strength.

In pride, Peter thought his faith was the strongest of all the disciples’ and swore that even if the others left Jesus, he never would (Mark 14:29). Yet when the time of testing came, he denied even knowing Christ–and did so three times (Matt. 26:69-75). Satan hoped the disciple would be so wounded by his own disloyalty that his faith would be undermined by shame, condemnation, and despair.

Likewise, when the Enemy sifts believers today, his goal is for us to become shelved and ineffective for God’s kingdom. That’s why he goes after our strengths, especially the areas in which we proudly consider ourselves invincible. But if we’re willing, the Lord can use our failures to do spiritual housecleaning, as He did in Peter’s life. After the resurrection, Jesus met with the disciple personally and restored him, preparing him to become a great leader in the early church. He made it clear that Peter’s potential to serve was defined, not by failure, but by his unwavering love for Christ.

Three Word Legacy


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

I’ve never been much of a funeral guy . . . not that anyone is. The first one I remember was for my father when I was a sophomore in high school. I’ve attended plenty since then, but not until my 40’s did I notice a distinct shift in my perspective.

Before 40, my dominant funeral emotion was numb. Aware of the sadness, but not overwhelmed because death seemed so far away.

Post 40, my emotional state changed. Possibly because I’ve attended funerals of people my age, but more likely because the idea of ‘legacy’ is now more of a priority for me. Sitting through these funerals, I catch myself wrestling with questions like . . .

  • What will my family say about me at my funeral? What about my friends?
  • Who will attend my funeral and why will they be there?
  • How do I want to make others feel when they are around me?
  • What do I value most and how am I living out those values daily?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the funeral for the mother of a family member. Even though I’d never met her, attending seemed like the right thing to do. My family member would have been there for me if the roles were reversed.

This funeral was unique as this lady suffered a stroke almost 30 years ago. She spent the past 30 years trapped in her temporary ‘earth suit’ . . . wheelchair-bound, with a limited vocabulary. It was said at the service that she was a “prisoner in her own body.”

As her grandchildren spoke and reflected on her life, they shared the words spoken to them most often during their visits . . . “I love you” and “Thank you.” Even with her physical limitations, she still let them know she loved them and was grateful for them. That is a legacy.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us “not to lose heart because while we are wasting away outwardly, we are being renewed every day” and to “fix our eyes on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary.”

Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is Thank You, it will be enough.”

Funerals are never events we hope to attend, but they can undoubtedly shape our perspective on eternity and remind us of the temporary nature of this life. After attending that funeral, here are some of the things I’m pondering. Maybe you’ll join me . . .

What are my eyes fixed on?

Am I allowing myself to be renewed every day?

Am I allowing the temporary circumstances I face every day determine the words that come out of my mouth?

If I could only speak three words or less, what would they be?

The Signs of Drifting


Hebrews 2:1-3

Regularly gathering in the house of the Lord with brothers and sisters in Christ provides an “anchor” of support and accountability. But skipping church in order to pursue other interests is an obvious sign that a believer has begun to drift away from God. Less apparent are the men and women who mentally skip the worship service. The act of attending means nothing unless we make a deliberate decision to receive God’s Word and apply it to our life. As the writer of Hebrews warned, if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, we will drift away from it.

However, Sunday morning is not the only time for receiving a steady diet of nourishing principles and encouragement from the Bible. We should be in its pages every day, reading and meditating for ourselves. When our interest in what God has to say decreases, we’re already slipping out into troublesome waters. The only way to keep our way pure is by following His Word (Ps. 119:9).

If Bible reading is neglected, a prayer life has usually faded as well. Prayer is the way believers communicate with the Navigator. If we stop talking with Him, the God who once seemed so close soon feels far away. That chasm in our spirit is one more sign that we’re far from shore and safety.

I’ve watched many a captain guide his cruise ship through a narrow channel. The crew members are intensely focused on their tasks because drifting means disaster. Life is full of narrow channels to navigate. We cannot afford to drift away from God and His Word. Only He can bring us safely through.

Reposted from Crosswalk.com

Grace Understands


Grace is when someone hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back

The Kind of Love that Marks a Christian


Reposted From Crosswalk.com

Who God Loves above All Others

Why does the Great Commandment instruct us to love God first, others second? Because this is the order in which God himself loves. God’s love did not begin in Genesis 1:1. It is eternal, existing before creation, having found eternal expression within the Trinity. It required no object outside the Godhead. We love because he first loved us. He loves us, having first and eternally loved himself.

Self-love is not always commendable in humans. While loving ourselves accurately is good, and even necessary for loving our neighbor, the Bible also speaks to the negative category of those who are “lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2). We have all known people whom we would label as an egotists, those who think of themselves more highly than they should. Egotism is an impossibility for God. He is irreproachably a lover of self, being the only one worthy of total love. For God not to love himself would be irrational. God’s worth is infinite, making him alone worthy to receive infinite self-love, as well as the unqualified adoration and veneration of everything in creation. It is impossible for anyone, including God, to love God too much.

We Can Love the Love of God Too Much

But it is possible for us to love the love of God too much. We do this when we emphasize the love of God at the expense of his other attributes. Sin can cause us to love a version of God that is not accurate. This is the basic definition of idolatry, a disordered love. Ironically, one of the most common forms our idolatry takes is the disordered love of the love of God. The overemphasis of God’s love is even evident in non-Christians. They may know very little of the Bible, yet many know and are quick to quote the truism that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The statement “My God is a God of love” often has as its subtext the idea that his love precludes him ever acting in wrath or justice, or in any way that does not fit our human conceptions of love.

All of God’s Actions Are Loving

But God’s love is both holy and infinite, which means that all his actions are loving, even when we cannot perceive them to be so. Not only are all his actions loving, but all he withholds or refrains from doing is also loving. When God acts in Scripture in ways we perceive to be unloving, the problem is not with his actions but with our limited perspective. When we endure hardship or loss, we may be tempted to question whether God loves us. This is why the Bible takes such care to remind us that hardship and loss are to be expected in this life. Hardship and loss are agents of separation, but nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. It is high and long, wide and deep, and if we fix our eyes on it, perhaps we may be able to begin to grasp some of that even in this lifetime.

And as we grasp it, we can then press it upon our neighbor.

Love without Bounds

Once we recognize that the love God has bestowed upon us is not merely an emotion but an act of the will, we are forced to reevaluate how we love others. Specifically, we must reevaluate our categories. No longer can we parse our fellow humans into the categories of “lovable” and “unlovable.”

If love is an act of the will—not motivated by need, not measuring worth, not requiring reciprocity—then there is no such category as “unlovable.” This is what Jesus teaches in the parable of the good Samaritan. When the lawyer seeks to qualify the meaning of the Great Commandment by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29), Jesus responds with a story about a man who shows love to the “unlovable.” It is, of course, a story about himself—and a story about everyone of us who has received rescue at his hands. As the parable is careful to illustrate, it is a costly and unsought rescue, an unsought rescue, bestowed upon an undeserving recipient

Love, No Matter the Cost

The costliness of agape is evident in the cross. Thus, those who resolve to take up their cross resolve to love as Christ loved, in a costly manner.

When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love God even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our pride, our comfort, our self-will, our self-sufficiency. At times, it costs us amicable relationships with family, our expectation of safety, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the worthiness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing freedom, and as we mature, we resolve to love God no matter what it costs us.

Loving Our Neighbor Costs

When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love our neighbor even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our preferences, our time, our financial resources, our entitlement, our stereotypes. At times, it costs us our popularity, respect, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the brokenness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing empathy, and as we mature, we resolve to love our neighbor no matter what it costs us.

This is the kind of love that marks believers as distinct from the world. What is the will of God for your life? That you love as you have been loved. When faced with a decision, ask yourself: Which choice enables me to grow in agape for God and others? And then choose according to his will.